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edited by Sue Courtney

Wednesday Round-up - the 2013 edition
Sue Courtney's tasting notes from the First Glass Fine Wine Wednesday $15 tastings

March 2013
[ Click here for index to other months ]

Sue Courtney's Fine Wine Wednesday tasting notes were recorded for First Glass Wines and Spirits in Takapuna for publication on their website. These notes are archival and may have been deleted from their site by now.
Some of the prices may be 'specials', but were correct at the date noted for the tasting. Check out for current availability and pricing. New Zealand readers can purchase the wines online from there.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 27 Mar 2013
Prestige and Premiums
Wines were tasted blind.

Milcrest Estate Reserve Nelson Chardonnay 2011
Light gold coloured with an enticing sweet lemon butter and toasted oak bouquet and warm, creamy, nutty, savoury flavours with nuances of apricot and citrus, a toasty succulent richness and a hint of butter caramel. Long and flavoursome with excellent length.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $25.99 special.

Alchemy Dartmoor Valley Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2010
Golden hued with an exciting wood smoke bouquet and bold toasty flavours that are full-bodied and harmonious with sizzled butter, juicy succulent peach, vibrant tropical fruit, butterscotch and caramel. Initially seems older than a 2010 but look behind the savoury oak and you’ll find a zingy freshness to the lingering finish. Almost a meal in a glass. Stylish presentation too.
13.9% alc. Screwcap. $23.99 special.

Morton Estate Black Label Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2010
Light lemon gold with nougat and nutty vanillin oak on the nose and a youthful (estery) vibrancy to the palate. Smooth, subtle, with a harmonious savoury oak undercurrent, it has soft acidity, hints of apricot, tropical fruit, aromatic spices and smoke. It’s already very attractive but ideally needs a little more time.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $24.99 special.

Domain Road Duffers Creek Central Otago Riesling 2012
Pale straw coloured and so fresh after the Chardonnays, there’s rich apple on the nose and a little struck match flint, apples and mandarins in the palate. It’s off dry to medium in sweetness level with a lusciousness as it traverses the palate leaving and a lingering taste of honeysuckle. Clean and nice. Cuisine Top 10.
11% alc. Screwcap. $22.99 special.

Giesen Marlborough Riesling 2012
Straw gold coloured with vibrant aromatics and zingy fresh spritzy flavours of lime and honeysuckle, with a tickle of ginger and a long flavoursome finish almost akin to apple nectar. The quality of German Spatlese. Gold NZIWS. Blue Gold and Trophy for Champion Aromatic White at the Sydney International.
10% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Church Road Reserve Hawkes Bay Merlot Cabernet 2010
Purple red. Deep scented opulent bouquet of savoury cedary oak, strawberry biscuits, macerated plums and spices. It’s a powerful wine, a robust wine, with concentrated berry fruit flavours, a touch of oak, a suggestion of mocha, svelte tannins and a long, vinously sweet finish. A stylish wine that will be at it best with food. Multi gold medal winner.
14% alc. Cork. $37.99.

Craggy Range ‘Sophia’ Hawkes Bay 2010
A blend of Merlot, Cabernets, Malbec and Petit Verdot, this more ‘elegant’ wine is dry with firm rather unforgiving tannins at this stage of its life – but take into consideration it is a wine that is made to age. There’s an earthy nuance and an interesting cherry allure to the smoky cedar bouquet, then in the palate there are cherries and plums with Merlot’s typical cigar box characters, dried herbs and a spicy oak vibrancy to the finish. A wine that need to be enjoyed in a big glass because as it lingers you can see the quality that is there.
13.5% alc. Cork. $69.99 special.

Penfolds Kalimna Bin 28 Shiraz 2010 – South Australia
Purple black. Spiced cherries, roasted nuts, sweet vanillin oak on the nose, firm yet succulent in the palate with a juicy veneer. This has all the hallmarks we love about this label – concentrated plum and berry fruit, vanillin oak, a smooth creamy texture, aromatic spices, mocha and flare. Followers of this label will not be disappointed, but it comes from a fantastic vintage that needs some time.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $32.99 special.

Rocland Chocolate Box Barossa Shiraz 2010
Deep dark red, mint and nuts on the nose, smooth and succulent in the palate with chocolate biscuits, toffee pops, aromatic and peppery spices and a rich savoury earthy undercurrent. A wine that’s pretty irresistible and drinking well now. (We are told this is a different bottling to the gold medal winner from September.)
15% alc. Screwcap. $20.99 special.

Rockford Basket Press Barossa Valley Shiraz 2005
There’s some brick creeping into the edges of this once deep dark red colour and a mellow ‘old spice tobacco’ overtone and macerated fig/plum to the cedary bouquet – with chocolate emerging as the wine opens up. Fine tannins define this wine, it’s concentrated and succulent with beautiful fruit expression, harmonious oak and spices, cigar box, tobacco, and a long dry mellow finish. Easy to see why it has such a following.
14.5% alc. Cork. Sold out.

Jacobs Creek Centenary Hill Barossa Valley Shiraz 2008
Purple red with a very fine deep translucency. Fragrant, heady and inviting scent of vanillin oak, spiced plums and chocolate. Beautifully fine tannins coat the tongue and palate, there’s masses of succulent, cedary, vanillin oak with concentrated blue and black fruits, spices and a chocolate silkiness that is there in spades. Oak perhaps just a little dominant on the finish, but just give it time – it’s a wine that will last for years.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $44.99 special.

de Bortoli Old Boys 21 Year Old Tawny Port
Deep clear, translucent orange amber. Brandied raisins and muscatels on the nose with orange peel and spices. Rich and seemingly dry on entry from the spirit, yet succulent and luscious and it fills out and coats the palate with typical rancio characters from the old oak barrel aging, last year’s Christmas cake, candied peel, warmed honey and nutty cedar. Gold medal NZIWS.
19% alc. Cork. $68.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 20 Mar 2013
Pre Stocktake Clearout
Wines were tasted blind.

Crossroads Milestone Series Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2011
Fragrantly scented, slightly nutty, slightly buttery, that suggestion of lemon bread to the scent and a lemon butter (malo) influence to the youthful taste and juicy nectarine and melon. Very smooth and creamy with a suggestion of biscuit spices, it's medium bodied in style with a light touch of smoky oak and a long warm finish. Perfect for seafood or 5 o'clock drinks.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $12.99 special.

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 11 Marlborough Chardonnay 2010
This full-bodied tasting wine has inviting stone fruit and butterscotch nuances to the scent. It's fresh and citrussy bright to the taste with juicy apricot, warm nutty oak and a long, toasty, mouth-coating finish with lingering cream brulee.
14% alc. Screwcap. $29.99 special.

Brunton Road Gisborne Chardonnay 2009
This rather more toasty, savoury style has an intriguing buttered toast / wood smoke infusion to the bright tropical fruit flavours that are a little reminiscent of babaco and mountain pawpaw. Fresh and lively, with lovely fruit concentration and a touch of spice to the finish, it's ripe for drinking now.
13.6% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special .

Morton Estate Black Label Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2009
Spicy and vibrant with a creamy layer to the backbone, concentrated apricot and stonefruit and an intriguing smokiness, this rich nutty wine is full bodied, seamless and harmonious. Oozing sophistication and class, it's a wine that's can grace the dinner party now but can be confidently cellared for a while.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. Sold out.

Gustave Lorentz Reserve Gewurztraminer 2010 - Alsace
With a distinctive and evocative scent of Turkish delight, candied violets, rose petals and lychees, and an exciting five spice / pepperiness to the focussed pure flavours with everything on the nose carrying through to the palate, this wine ticks all the boxes for Gewurz lovers. It's fresh and seemingly dry with intriguing smokiness too, but the juiciness to the finish characterises the luscious Alsace style. 13.5% alc. Cork. $22.99 special.

Castano Molino Loco Monastrell 2011 - Yecla, Spain
Dark red with a spicy, earthy, savoury bouquet infused with concentrated blackberry / redcurrant fruit. Quite savoury and just a little rustic to the taste yet juicy and fruity with lashings of fleshy red and purple fruit and a touch of chocolate too. In conclusion it's soft and smooth with a velvety mouthfeel and a bright spicy flourish to the creamy finish.
14% alc. Screwcap. $11.99 special.

Fairmont Wairarapa Pinot Noir 2011
A lighter Burgundy red colour with beguiling floral nuances to the savoury bouquet, it’s fresh with a lovely savouriness to make it exciting without overpowering. Fruit is in the lighter red spectrum – strawberry / cherry guavas – with almost anise-like / musky nuances, but it is the mouth-coating and sensual silky texture that's so delightful in this wine. Gold Easter Show.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Castano Hecula Monastrell 2009 – Yecla, Spain
A robust savoury red with a deep colour and a meaty depth, it's crammed with concentrated, super ripe, blue/black almost raisiny fruit and a super juicy finish. Tannins are fine and firm, there are hints of spice and like the Molina Loco Monastrell, it has that savoury, earthy, rusticity too.
14% alc. Cork. $14.99 special.

Coopers Creek Select Vineyards Hawkes Bay Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Dark red, Savoury on the nose with classic Bordeaux-like scents of cedar and leather, this is a deep, concentrated wine with lovely purity of red/black currant fruit and while still quite a firm tannic wine and looking like it will continue to develop, there's a sensual mellow character creeping in. Drinking beautifully now, to savour with a meal or a semi-soft to semi-hard cheese.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $24.99.

Wirra Wirra Church Block McLaren Vale Cabernet Shiraz Merlot 2010
Purple red coloured with a dusty scent, this is a blockbuster in the context of the tasting so far, and despite the firm tannins, it's a juicy succulent wine with juicy ripe red fruit – cherries and redcurrants come to mind. There's a touch of chocolate, a layer of vanilla and the slightest suggestion of mint. Lots of flavour and a long finish too.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Grant Burge Miamba Barossa Shiraz 2010
Inky black with purple flashes, this super juicy Aussie Shiraz fits the style of wine we call a 'grunter'. While a little restrained on the nose, there's no lacking to any of the flavours. It's spicy, almost peppery, with good acid spine, chocolate, an underlying firmness resulting in a dry finish and great expression of purple plum and berry fruit.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $25.99 special.

Peter Lehmann Eight Songs Barossa Shiraz 2007
Dark red with a mellow overlay to the cocoa bouquet, just hinting of some age but in the most evocative way. Then in the palate it's fine and silky – it's seamlessly flows. This wine is now the epitome of harmony and balance, the fruit is in tune with spicy oak backbone – it's luscious and creamy and there's no need, really, to say any more except that this wine is totally on song! 14.5% alc. Screwcap. $42.99 special.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 13 Mar 2013
Te Mata Estate Showcase with Nicholas Buck
All of these wines are from Hawkes Bay. The wines were not tasted blind.

Te Mata Zara Viognier 2010
Glossy gold colour with a lovely bright lemon scent infused with a delicate and very appealing touch of spice. Warm and textural in the palate with apricots, lemon verbena, pastry and toasted nuts, it has nice lift and length with a touch of lemongrass emerging on the dry, savoury finish.
14.5% alc. Diam. $27.99 special.

Te Mata Zara Viognier 2011
The bouquet has bright citrussy tones with smoky spiced nuts and a touch of mandarin peel and the taste is soft and creamy with a smoky nuance, apricot and citrus. Underlying firm phenolics hint of potential longevity – it will be exciting to see this wine unfold over the next year or so. Upfront vinous sweetness yet a dry wine throughout with an expansive and hauntingly spicy finish.
13.5% alc. Diam. $27.99 special.

Te Mata Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2012
The 'new Woodthorpe', as with all the 'estate' labels, but no longer solely Woodthorpe fruit. There's bean and day lily pods on the nose with some toasty flinty nuances even though the wine is unoaked, the flintiness carrying through to the bone-dry palate. Distinctly sav with green bean, citrus, almost ripe peach and green passionfruit with underlying herbaceousness and a zesty kind of spiciness that's fresh and bright.
13% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Te Mata Cape Crest Sauvignon Blanc 2012
In contrast to the 'estate' sauv, this has a soft oak impression to the more floral, tropical fruit bouquet and the oak from the 100% barrel ferment is savoury and creamy with a vanilla nougat-like nuances coming through. There's juicy peach and tropical fruit with a splash of passionfruit, a soupcon of pineapple and a exciting youthful freshness with that very appealing oak twirling on the lingering full-bodied finish.
13.5% alc. Diam. $27.99 special.

Te Mata Estate Chardonnay 2011
A more medium bodied style of Chardonnay than many of the ones we drink at First Glass, this charmer has a bouquet of nuts and grilled peaches and the palate is crammed with juicy stonefruit and melon. There's a nutty savouriness and the harmonious sweet oak finish is layered with a delicate touches of caramel.
13% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Te Mata Elston Chardonnay 2011
Warm, rounded and seamless with a nutty savouriness and youthful phenolics (as seen in the Zara 11), yet it's blossomed since release last year - it's rounded and expansive in the mouth and becoming quite fleshy. There's vanilla, white peach, an intriguing 'lime honey' nuance, a sweet biscuity oak backbone and a lingering finish of creamed nuts and nougat. Worth cellaring.
13.5% alc. Diam. $29.99 special.

Te Mata Gamay Noir 2012
This vibrant translucent purple red coloured charmer smells so fresh, fruity and clean yet with a Euro-like savouriness too. Rosehip cordial and ribena comes to mind. It's crisp, fresh and almost bone dry with a confectionary-like purple and red berry fruit juiciness, a harmonious cinnamon and clove spiciness and a pleasing amount of tannic grip. Made from the grape Beaujolais made famous it's simply delicious summer drinking.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Te Mata Estate Merlot Cabernets 2010
Black red coloured with a bouquet of leather, juicy plum and black cherry, this is savoury and meaty to the taste with a bright fresh spiciness and harmonious creamy oak as the wine traverses the palate. Merlot characters seem dominant upfront, the Cabernets are firm mid palate but the depth, richness and voluptuousness of the Petit Verdot characterises the concentrated finish. 46% Merlot, 26% CS, 17% CF and 14% PV.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Te Mata Awatea 2001
Still a deep red yet showing some bricking to the edges, there's a barnyard savouriness on the nose but it's quite chocolatey in the palate and while the fruit is disappearing, a dried redcurrant concentration comes to mind. Tannins are as fine as they come, giving the wine an incredibly seamless and silky flow, with the savoury secondary vinous characters of bottle age lingering.
13% alc. Cork. N/A.

Te Mata Awatea 2010
Rich red with a purple flush to the edges, this has a savoury and youthful cedary bouquet with the savouriness carrying through to the firm, dry palate that's underpinned with dried herbs, rose hips, concentrated plum and dark currant fruit, a suggestion of spice, a mouthcoating creaminess and plush velvety tannins. Great finish. Excellent wine. 42% CS, 40% Merlot, 12% CF, 6% PV.
13.5% alc. Cork. $29.99 special.

Te Mata Awatea 2011
Deep red with crimson flashes, this has a beautiful, fresh, inviting violet, cassis, cherry, and cedar bouquet and it tastes concentrated and powerful with a fresh acid spine to balance the almost opulent, juicy ripe fruit With a touch of cigar box, a hint of leather, a smidgen of chocolate, a suggestion of anise and great presence and persistence, all the hallmarks of a great wine are there. 43% CS, 42% Merlot, 12% CF and 3% PV.
13.5% alc. Cork. $29.99 special.

Te Mata Coleraine 2001
Dark red with some thinning of colour to the garnet edges, this is an intriguingly savoury wine, a dusty wine, a meaty wine with vinous sweetness and a roasted rosemary herbaceousness (think of rosemary roasted with lamb). Silky in its tannin structure, the flavours are expansive and fleshy with dried cherries, some rose petal florals and vinous concentration to the subtle spicy finish. Like the Awatea of the vintage, it is the savouriness takes over and persisting on the lingering finish. A lovely wine to sip, savour and converse over. 55% CS, 29% Merlot, 16% CF.
13.5% alc. Cork. $NA.

Te Mata Coleraine 2011
Inky black red with purple flushes to the edges, there's a concentration to the Bdx-character scent and upfront fleshiness to the intriguingly spicy flavours. Fresh and young, with harmonious cedar and cigar box characters, anise herb-like nuances, juicy currant, cherry and purple plum fruit, violets and a dusty savouriness. With tannins that are firm yet fine, this promises to evolve into a majestic wine with time. Opened and double decanted on the morning of the tasting, this is a wine that Nicholas says will be slow to unfold and unwind. Fantastic cellaring proposition. 72% CS, 22% Merlot, 6% CF.
13% alc. Cork. $79.99 special.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 6 Mar 2013
Gold Medals from the Easter Show and more
Wines were tasted blind.

Kate Radburnd 'Liquid Gold' Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2010
From the inviting 'hot smoke' aromatics to the bright fruity, juicy flavours, this wine hits the spot from the outset. There's apricot, tropical fruit and zesty citrus, a warm nutty backbone, well balanced spicy oak and a long, savoury finish. Silver NZIWS.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $15.99 special.

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 18 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2012
Now this is vibrantly fresh and aromatic with all those 'in your face' characters you expect from Marlborough. With juicy citrus and ravishing passionfruit flavours, a nice twist of zest, tangy summer herbs and a mouth-watering dry finish, it's a stunning example of how this good variety can be. Gold and Trophy NZIWS 2012. Gold Easter Show 2013.
13% alc. Screwcap. $23.99 special.

Villa Maria SV Keltern Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2011
This a deep, rich, creamy textured Chardonnay with toasty oak aromas, a touch of grapefruit, a savoury mealy complexity and fine layers of caramel. From what many consider an earlier drinking vintage, it's delicious, seamless and so enjoyable already. An outstanding wine that's bestowed with gold medals from Bragato, NZIWS, AirNZ and Easter.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $29.99 special.

Passage Rock Waiheke Island Viognier 2012
Now this smells different. It's full of those summer sun-ripened stonefruit flavours with a tickle of sherbet adding to the freshness and the most slightest suggestion of tarragon to add a savoury exoticness to the taste. There's a nutty character to the backbone and a spicy warmth to the apricot finish. Gold Easter Show.
14% alc. Screwcap. $26.99 special.

Invivo Marlborough Pinot Gris 2012
This refreshing and just off dry style has an early autumn orchard fruit profile with pear, Nashi and quince creating a vibrant taste expression There's a nuance of playdough on the nose and a sherbet like vibrancy to the finish that's fresh and long with a mealy savouriness as it lingers. Gold Easter Show.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Waimea Nelson Gewurztraminer 2011
Unmistakeable as to the variety, it resonates rose petals, five spice and juicy exotic tropical fruit. The perfume is delicate rose petal but the taste is more violet. It's luscious without being too sweet or overpowering. Trophy NZIWS.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Castano Monastrell 2011 – Yecla, Spain
A light purple red coloured wine, this smells fruity and savoury with lightly spicy oak and tastes of juicy plum and strawberry with a touch of liquorice and moderately firm tannins. It's medium in style with a spicy finish. A perfect pizza / tapas / BBQ style. Gold NZIWS.
14% alc. Screwcap. $11.99 special.

Coopers Creek SV Razorback Central Otago Pinot Noir 2010
This tastes savoury and spicy with an intriguing funk to the scent and brightness to the ripe fruit flavours of dried redcurrants, blueberries and perhaps spiced cherries It has a firm nap to the velvety texture and exciting hints of anise. Excellent for the price, it begs to be accompanied with spiced duck. Gold Easter Show.
14% alc. Screwcap. $20.99 special.

Akarua Central Otago Pinot Noir 2011
This smells like Xmas in a glass. It has a sweeter fruit intensity and more obvious oak on the nose, and is sensually smooth as it caresses the palate. This smoky, savoury pinot is immensely appealing - the room agreed. A dangerous wine because it is so enjoyable to drink just on its own. Gold NZIWS, Gold Easter Show.
14% alc. Screwcap. $32.99 special.

Yealands Reserve Central Otago Pinot Noir 2010
Now we are heading to more of an overall savouriness with the much sought gaminess and beautifully poised oak in balance with the succulent bittersweet red and black fruit. Deep and thoughtful, with a exotically spicy flare to the finish, this outstanding pinot begs to be accompanied with some lamb or game. Trophy for Best Pinot Noir at the Sydney International 2013.
14% alc. Screwcap. $44.99.

Coopers Creek SV Chalk Ridge Hawkes Bay Syrah 2011
Vibrant purple red with a creamy nuance to the peppery scent, and smoothness to the texture. Medium to full-bodied with an intriguing herb character penetrating the spiced blackberry fruit with savoury oak in harmony and a finish that's firm.Gold Easter Show.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $20.99 special.

Te Awanga Estate Hawkes Bay Syrah 2011
This inky purple red wine emanates pepper, pepper and more pepper. An extremely juicy wine with savoury oak, juicy red and purple fruit, a deep savouriness and a full bodied, creamy, almost chocolatey finish with a vibrancy of spiced berries lingering. One of Rod McDonald's own labels. Gold Easter Show.
14% alc. Screwcap. $26.99 special.

Note: The New Zealand wines listed on this page should have been cross-catalogued to my wine reviews by grape variety - check out my Wine Review Index.

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